NO GRASS UNDERFOOT FOR SCHOOP

Jack Schoop, who always seemed to be stumbling into mine fields of unexpected controversy, couldn’t even resign from his job as Dallas’ chief planner without causing a few twitters and mutters.

Schoop got into hot water because of a memorandum in which developer Trammell Crow was practically accused of acting in bad faith during the planning process for the new Arts District. The only problem was, Schoop didn’t write the memo.

He also came under fire for a statement he made during the Dallas 2,000 planning process to the effect that the Dallas Independent School District was not a positive influence on the development of the city. The point seemed obvious enough, but rankled some DISD leaders who felt they were turning the troubled school system around.

“He didn’t even say that originally,” says former DISD board member Jerry Bartos. “That was the consensus of a group of 25 of us, which included Dave Braden, Alex Bickley, Jess Hay, Ebby Hal-liday and Trammell Crow . . . . I feel like Jack was the messenger who brought bad news to the king and got his head chopped off for it.”

Then there was Schoop’s image problem. As Councilman Joe Haggar saw it, “The developers didn’t think he was pro-development, and the environmentalists didn’t think he was doing enough for their side. He got caught in the middle.”

So, after Schoop’s sudden May 7 announcement that he would be leaving Dallas in six months, there was ample fuel for speculation. Had he been sacked by the downtown power structure? Abandoned by the environmentalists? Mortally wounded by DISD?

None of the above, say several insiders. City Manager Charles Anderson, who was known to have complaints over Schoop’s administrative (as opposed to planning) performance and his pessimistic views toward controlling growth in Oak Lawn, says he did not ask Schoop to leave.

Some of Schoop’s subordinates say their boss was occasionally frustrated by the vicissitudes of City Council policies and that he felt he had gone as far as he could in Dallas.

Schoop says he is leaving because within six months, the Arts District and the Dallas 2,000 projects will be on their way. Those were his two main objectives over the past several years, and “I never like to let grass grow under my feet,” he says. “I think three or four years is long enough to work in one place.”

Schoop says he has only one wish for his still-unnamed successor: a budget big enough to handle growing demands on his department.

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